What is the Body of Christ? Just as a physical body has various parts, each with a different function, we all have different functions in the Body of Christ. But they all work together with Christ as the head of the Body. And Jesus leads each one of us by the Holy Spirit. So, we become His hands, feet, voice, and every other part of the body that is needed to do His works. As members of Christ’s Body, we are to carry on the work that Jesus did when He was on this earth.
At the inception of the Church, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, the apostles were working miracles and healing people in the name (authority) of Jesus. There were also signs and wonders done in His name. They were the body of Christ. They had become His feet, hands, eyes, ears and voice to continue the same works Jesus did. They operated under the power of the Holy Ghost given to them.
As people saw Christ at work through these disciples, they came to believe in Him and were saved. When these new converts were added to the Church, they became the same dynamic soul winners as those to whom they were joined.
Lately I have been wondering about the church of today. When someone comes to Christ and joins himself to us, what does he become? I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question, but we must answer it honestly if we want to see the Church rise up and become who God has designed it to be…the body of Christ through whom He carries out His will and His works and through Whom He shows His glory.
What does a new born-again believer look like a year after being joined to us? Has the fire settled down to a barely glowing ember or maybe even gone out completely; or has the blaze been consistently fueled by the Spirit of God? When the fire of the Spirit blazes in the heart of a man or woman, the Word of God will be spread all around. But have these believers become common church-goers who have learned the lingo and proper procedures accepted in our services? Or are they more filled with God’s Spirit today than when they first believed? Are they going forth as the Church to the world around them in the power of the Holy Spirit? Are they doing the works of Jesus? Am I? Are you? What have today’s new believers joined themselves to? What kind of example are we?
What did the early Christians join themselves to? What did their examples look like? Here is a glimpse of what the early Church looked like.
They were meeting daily from house to house to strengthen and exhort one another, and to seek the will of God. How often do we gather to pray together with other believers? To join together in prayer for encouragement, healing, knowledge and direction? Many times we have had the privilege to gather at a friend’s house just to share the Word and pray for one another. Whatever our needs were we prayed. As the Body of Christ, we need to bear one another’s burdens and watch over one another so we will not grow weary and faint. We can’t do that if we don’t know one another, or if we don’t share our needs for prayer with others.
Most people don’t even take time to attend church more than once a week, much less meet from house to house to serve one another and the Lord. When we make these times of coming together a priority, God speaks, heals, gives direction, encourages, and sometimes sends out those who are called to a special work. In Acts 13, we read of a group of believers who had gathered together. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) Their call was confirmed as they were gathered together in prayer, and they went out to do Kingdom work. We need to meet together as the Church.
Their lives were built around the Church. It’s wonderful to have a designated building in which the church can come together, but if that is lost, the Church is still alive. The early church was not a building. It was the living organism made up of multiple members of Christ’s body. They were the living church of Jesus wherever they came together. Their focus was not on building a good, comfortable life in this world and ‘allowing’ Jesus to be part of it. The kingdom of God was their mission, their purpose and their priority. Leaving their old life behind, giving their all to share the gospel with others, and taking care of the people of God was their interpretation of seeking first the kingdom of God. What is our interpretation of seeking first His kingdom? Whatever work God calls us to in His kingdom, we need to adjust our job circumstances and lifestyles to accommodate it. These early Christians who “turned the world upside down” were ordinary people with jobs and families. But they became extraordinary because they put God’s kingdom first.
So, our focus is to be on Jesus. We should look at everything we do from the viewpoint of God’s kingdom, His purpose and will. Our career should be less of a priority in our lives than God’s mission for us. My husband has turned down more lucrative jobs in his life because they would interfere with the ministry we are called to do. As a result, God has blessed us and we have no lack. Paul, the apostle, was a tentmaker. That trade lent itself to supporting him and letting him be flexible to go wherever God led Him. He was a learned man who could have held positions that were considered much greater in the eyes of the world. As a matter of fact, he had held a very prestigious position before his encounter with Jesus. But He had a mission from God and it took first place. It was more important than any worldly pursuit.
They were listening to the Word and studying the Scriptures. “These [the Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) They checked to make sure what they were being taught was in line with the Scripture. We need to do the same. In a day when there are so many false doctrines being taught, we need to search the Scripture for ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to His truth. How much of what you know about Jesus is knowledge you received from someone else, and how much is directly from Him? Learning about Jesus is wise, but learning from Jesus burns it into our souls and seals it in our hearts.
They followed the teachings of Jesus and His example. It seems we are out of touch with what it means to be a real Christian, being part of the body of Jesus Christ. It is a decision by an individual to leave everything behind, and to follow the teachings and example of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. What did Jesus teach? Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The words Jesus spoke and the example He set are His teachings. Jesus’ taught humility and showed us by example. He taught with words and example about denying ourselves, guarding against hypocrisy, how to handle money, suffering persecution and about forgiving. And that’s just the beginning. His teachings don’t change to fit neatly into our culture. Either we allow them to change us or we are not one of His disciples.
They gave what they had to take care of one another. We read in Acts 2 that many people sold their possessions to help those who were in need. In 2 Corinthians 9, the churches that had plenty took offerings to be sent to those in the church in Jerusalem that needed funds. And in James 1:27 we are told: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” What we have is to be used to help those in need. But the Scripture is also clear that we are not called to support the lazy. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) And Ephesians 4:28 says, “ The thief [who has become a believer] must no longer steal, but instead he must work hard [making an honest living], producing that which is good with his own hands, so that he will have something to share with those in need.” (Amplified Bible) We are called to serve one another and be quick to share our blessings. God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others.
They shared the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit – They shared the gospel with everyone they met. When they were persecuted and scattered to other places, they took the gospel message with them. We are more likely to talk about whatever is most important to us, and following Jesus was their top priority. They followed wherever the Spirit led them and always shared the message of Jesus. Their lives were all about fulfilling the great commission to “go ye”. Wherever the Spirit led, they went.
So, I ask again, “What are new believers joining themselves to when they join our congregations? When they join themselves to one of us as an individual believer? Are they really becoming members of the Body of Christ to carry on the ministry as Jesus did? Or do they become part of an organization that knows little of Jesus personally?
“And he [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33